The Site of Richard Adan’s Murder

I know virtually nothing about who Richard Adan was other than an aspiring actor and a waiter at a small restaurant called the Binibon.  I remember hearing about the circumstances of his murder back in July 1981 and the huge uproar regarding his death.

I lead this section talking about him simply as a matter of citing the victim rather than the perpetrator.  You don’t want to celebrate Jack Abbott too much; he already has a Wikipedia entry and probably a hundred books cite him in some way.  Anyway, Abbott committed suicide in 2002.

Richard Adan was trying to be helpful to Abbott when Abbott asked to use the restroom and was informed it was for employees only.  Apparently he said Abbott should “take it outside” which might have been meant as use an alley or building side for a urinal (NYC was that kind of place back then); but Abbott apparently took as an invitation to fight.  When Adan led him outside, Abbott knifed him to death.

Most people probably don’t know who Jack Abbott was, despite the extremely brief celebrity of the man.  He was a lifelong criminal apparently with high intelligence and a gift for language.  He wrote a book called “In the Belly of the Beast” in which he put forth his anger and frustration with great talent and fanfare.  The New York Times published a glowing review of his book the morning after he murdered Richard Adan.

And the lifelong criminal would have been behind bars during the time of the murder if not for one of 2007’s most celebrated celebrities hadn’t made every possible effort to get Abbott released:  Norman Mailer (who died in 2007).

Maybe Richard Adan’s life would have made him someone that Mailer would have enjoyed.  He was also an author, but one cut short.  I have no knowledge of Adan, but am weary at the idea that both Abbott and Mailer have Wikipedia articles, but Adan doesn’t.

Enough of the ennui.  I’ve spent a couple of weekends touring the Lower East Side/East Village and the below was pointed out to me as the site of the murder.  The Binibon is gone, but I’m told is where the “Join or Die” sign is now on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 5th Street.



Explore posts in the same categories: Celebrity Points, Greenwich Village, LES, Manhattan, Wanderings

5 Comments on “The Site of Richard Adan’s Murder”

  1. db Says:

    Hey. Just wanted to tell you that I lived a few blocks from the Bini Bon when Richard Adan was murdered. I’m writing an essay that includes this, and was dong a webs search when I came across your article. Thank you. –db

  2. anon Says:

    From the little that I’ve managed to read about Adan, his performances had received overwhelmingly positive reception from the audience during his theater tour in Spain. Who knows if that would have translated to catching that magical uplift of fortune – the big break – that most actors who become successful attain, but his family was understandably upset that he became a footnote to his own murder in the media, while writers and actors patronized and empathized with the violent little convict even at his trial. Adan’s widow, Ricci, was awarded monies from the sale of Abbott’s books and was a dancer and teacher for many years.

    Mailer never apologized to Adan’s family about a chain of events that he set in motion with his support of Abbott. Also of interest is Mailer’s stabbing with a penknife of one of his wives back in the sixties, so the author probably shared more of Abbott’s impulses than many were aware of.

    • Pippin Says:

      I remember seeing a news report about Adan’s murder back in 1981, I believe. It was on “20/20” or one of those news shows. If my memory serves me correctly, Adan had auditioned for a role on a PBS series; I believe it was “The Righteous Apples.” He actually landed the role, but he never got the news. So, he had gotten his big break — but he didn’t even live long enough to receive the offer.

      I must admit, I have, for a very long time, been downright appalled at the lack of empathy Adan and his family received from the celebrity element. Instead of standing by a fellow thespian, so many of them stood beside a psychotic killer. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins even named one of their sons after the nut.

      I’ve never read Abbott’s book. I never will. Hey, Hitler wrote a book, too. I haven’t read that one, either.

  3. Nick Says:

    Does anyone know if Richard Adan’s play was ever performed? There’s nothing about the person that really needs to be remembered here.

  4. Gabriel Says:

    Thanks for the info. I agree; why give Abbott’s sorry ass any more notoriety than he deserves?

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